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Old Dec 10 2013, 04:11 PM   #4
D. M. Domini
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland
Gender: F
Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Default Re: Dragons: sentience vs. subservience

I think dragons were written as status-sticks and plot-movers, but generally not as characters in their own rights. They have bits of personality and a few lines, but nothing I find to be convincing or compelling, barring perhaps Ruth.

And yes, I think that's canon. AMC went to the extent of saying dragons had poor memories because that's how they were engineered. She didn't have to choose that.

Why DID she do that? Well, Anareth points out that it's super dangerous to bioengineer giant telepathic telekinetic SMART meat-eating beasts. I agree if you start applying logic to it. But...I'm not convinced this was the reason AMC did it, though, because it's too smart of an observation NOT to be voiced by Sean or some other character in Dragonsdawn or post-AIVAS. If she had been thinking along those lines, I think it would have made it into the books proper.

You actually see the Mrdini being used as status-sticks just like dragons in the Talent books, and they *definitely* are sentient beings, and they don't really get much more development than dragons do. They get some--a Mrdini sets out to harm a human protag in one of the books--but really not much in the bigger scheme of things. Having a status-stick to boost the supposed worth of a character is a repeatedly used trick in AMC books. Sometimes it works. Other times it backfires.

I think AMC just didn't want to deal with the larger implications of telepathic life-partners. She wanted to keep it simple. So she did. I mean, she could have gone the Mercedes Lackey route...if you want to see what intelligent, fully characterized telepathic life-bonded partners might be developed like just look at Valdemar and the Companions. (or Naomi Novik's series, which is pretty much a direct answer to Pern.) And I don't consider Lackey's works paragons of complexity or nuance, and yet she still did a lot more with telepathic magical ponies than AMC did with telepathic dragons. And Novik did a lot more than either of them on the subject, *without* the telepathy.

I think that has to be by author choice.

I think dragons are a ridiculously attractive idea to the preteen/teen/young adult crowd, and turned into a damn good moneymaker for her because what young adult DOESN'T want a close friend for life who always understands you? And that's what she let it be.

This all said, just because AMC purposely wrote dragons as she wrote them doesn't mean those of us who do fanfic have to do it that way ourselves, or that readers wouldn't love to see dragon psyches better explored. But for me personally since I see very little evidence that dragons have even the capability of being characters with free-will in their own right, I've had a tremendously difficult time writing them myself. The "evidence" that they are pretty tied to supporting their riders as characters is really strong and I feel as if I'm slipping out of canon if I try to "correct" it in my stories. I find Harpers easier because their firelizard "status sticks" are never in any significant way sentient and are easily molded to highlight mood or plot in a scene!
Read my Pern and Talent fanfic on Archive of our Own.

Fanfic WIPs: The Day Benden Went to War (Pern/Talent); Slosh (Pern); Weyrbred Lads (Pern); When You Fall Asleep /Between/... (Pern)

Completed Fics: Flight (Pern), Flight v2 (Pern), Golden Glow (Pern)

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